Michael Beckel at the Center for Public Integrity is on the trail of mystery men and their mystery cash. It has led him to a strip mall outside Louisville.
Hunt for the Kentucky Opportunity Coalition, and one finds no grassroots army, no canvassing operation, no office or headquarters at all - just a scuffed U.S. Postal Service box nestled inside a suburban shopping plaza about 10 miles from downtown Louisville…About one in every seven of TV ads in Kentucky’s Senate race - about 12,000 of the more than 79,000 ads that have aired through Monday - has been sponsored by Kentucky Opportunity Coalition, which operates as a “social welfare” nonprofit organization that, by law, is prohibited from making the influencing of elections its primary purpose.
Pardon me while I pause here for a moment because I have just laughed so hard my spleen came out my nose.
Despite having effectively no physical presence, the Kentucky Opportunity Coalition now ranks among the largest social welfare nonprofits in Kentucky - bringing in more money, according to Internal Revenue Service records, than some of Kentucky’s more high-profile nonprofits, such as the Kentucky School Boards Association and the Kentucky Derby Festival, the group behind two weeks’ worth of events surrounding the Kentucky Derby.
And, by all the available evidence, it doesn’t exist outside of a post office box.
The only remaining difference between how drug dealers do business and how we run political campaigns is that the former drive better cars. And they operate with marginally more transparency. I mean, we knew who Pablo Escobar was. But we don’t know who the Kentucky Opportunity Coalition is. Our elections are now more than yet another game rigged by big money. They have been rendered a farce. Because it is a “social welfare non-profit,” the KOC is not allowed to influence elections, except that it has run 12,000 television ads attacking Alison Lundergan Grimes, the social-welfare benefits of which remain rather vague to the untrained observer. And its front man is a guy who learned his “social-welfare” chops in Karl Rove’s ratfking operations and, later, in both of Mitch McConnell’s last two political campaigns.
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